Guess who's talking about high-speed rail again? Texas

Fort Worth Star-TelegramMay 12, 2011 

ARLINGTON, Texas — Just as the effort to bring high-speed rail to Texas is gaining steam, a dispute over what kind of service to bring to the state and where to build the stations threatens to derail the project.

Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes is among those who favors 200-mph trains on elevated tracks — possibly on right of way along Texas 360 in Arlington — to one station at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. From there, a passenger could hop on a train and be in Houston in about 80 minutes, stopping only a few times to pick up passengers along the 250-mile journey.

Such a system would cost much more than other proposals but could be privately funded, and would be better for the state long term, Fickes argues. A Japanese company has already moved to Texas to put together a bullet-train proposal.

"I don't want to spend $5 billion to $10 billion for something that will fail, when we could do something better that could last us 100 years," Fickes said.

He is chairman of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp., which for several years has tried to align political and business forces to get a bullet-style train system built in the state.

But other North Texas officials favor improving existing freight rail lines so they could serve not only D/FW Airport, but also the downtowns of Fort Worth and Dallas, and foster new development in the city centers.

Today, passenger trains in the populated areas can go no more than 79 mph in freight corridors, but with several billion dollars of improvements, supporters believe that they could achieve speeds of up to 150 mph.

The downtown-centric plan is favored by officials in Fort Worth and Dallas and endorsed by the Regional Transportation Council, the region's official planning body, which will discuss the issue today in Arlington. Either type of train service could meet the definition of high-speed rail.

"Our previous mayor, the current mayor and the next mayor has made a decision that we want this rail coming to Union Station (in downtown Dallas), and I believe Fort Worth is in a similar situation," said Dallas Councilman Ron Natinsky, regional council chairman and a Dallas mayoral candidate.

Read more of this story at Star-Telegram.com

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